Five Foods to Eat For Better Health

Eating high-quality food is an easy way to boost your well-being. Our energy, organ functions, and even emotions depend on our diet. Try these five foods to nourish your body and improve your overall health.


cut up Mango with an untouched one in the background

Mangoes

Mangoes are more than sweet, succulent treats. For 5,000 years, inhabitants of India have considered them a sacred fruit. The flesh, skin, and even the pit offer benefits for your health. Each mango contains high levels of vitamins C, A, B5, E, and K. It’s a rich source of folate, which your body needs to maintain the strength and health of red blood cells. The combination of folate and vitamins E, B, and K boosts your immune system. The beta-carotene that gives mangoes their bright color also fights off cancer-causing free radicals.

While mangoes are tasty on their own, adding them to a recipe can take them from humdrum to zesty perfection. They work well in salsa and guacamole. If you prefer a drinkable feast, mix mangoes into your smoothies, margaritas, or daiquiris. For a sweet snack, make mango ice cream. Simply chop the mango, freeze it, then put it into a blender with some greek yogurt and heavy cream. Blend it together. If you prefer a non-dairy version, add frozen banana and honey in place of the yogurt and cream.



photo of jackfruit and an avocado

Jackfruit

Jackfruit grows on trees, mainly in India’s rain forests. Each fruit is huge -- some weigh more than 100 pounds -- with sweet pulp inside. Because of the fruit’s texture, many vegans and vegetarians use it to replace meat in recipes. Unlike other fruits, it has a high amount of protein per serving. It contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with vitamins A and C. In addition, each serving provides a decent amount of folate, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, and more. It’s low on the glycemic index, which makes it a good choice for those who need help regulating their blood sugar. Jackfruit is a rich variety of antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

You can eat jackfruit raw or cooked. When jackfruit is ripe, it works better for sweet dishes. Before it ripens, it works well for savory dishes like curries or barbecues. The seeds are also edible and contain more fiber.



pudding made from chia along with some pieces of fruit

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, which flourishes in desert environments. They’re whole grain, gluten-free, and packed with antioxidants. They’re also 40% fiber, which aids digestion and creates a sense of fullness after you eat them.

In addition to fiber, they’re an excellent source of protein. In fact, they contain isoleucine, lysine, histidine, leucine, phenylalanine, methionine, valine, tryptophan, and threonine. That’s all nine of the amino acids considered essential for our bodies to work properly.

Since chia seeds are almost flavorless, you can eat them in a variety of ways. Soak them in water or milk, add flavoring like cinnamon or vanilla, and create chia pudding. Because they become gel-like in liquid, they’re perfect for making thick smoothies. You can sprinkle them on salads, stir-fries, and wraps. You can even add them to your favorite bread or cookie recipes.



a fork holds a pickle with pickle jars alongside

Pickles

Pickles aren’t just for sandwiches. They’re also surprisingly good for you. The health benefits depend on which type of pickles you get. Fermented pickles have all the health benefits of cucumbers or whichever other vegetables they contain, plus they boost your gut health.


When fermented naturally in salt, water, and spices, they contain probiotics. Beneficial bacteria keep the bad bacteria in your digestive system in check. They help your body digest food, break down medications, and protect the cells in your gut.


Many of the pickles you find in grocery stores are fresh-packed in vinegar rather than fermented. These won’t help your gut as much, but they will benefit you in other ways. They contain antioxidants that fight free radicals. Their high levels of vitamins A, E, K, and C protect your immune system. The vinegar-based juice contains magnesium, potassium, and sodium, which can restore your balance of electrolytes and soothe muscle cramps.

Eat pickles on their own, on sandwiches or burgers, or however else you like! If you don’t mind sour flavors, drinking the juice helps too. On the other hand, the high sodium content means a steady stream of pickles and pickle juice might not be the best choice. If you have blood pressure or heart issues, too many pickles might push you over your limit for salt.


Hemp Seeds

People have used hemp seeds for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. While they come from the cannabis plant, they contain no THC -- you won’t experience any psychotropic reactions from eating them. They are rich in essential fatty acids. More than a fourth of their calories per serving derive from protein. They’re also a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E.

Because hemp seeds contain arginine, they can lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Arginine becomes nitric oxide when digested. This relaxes blood vessels, causing them to dilate easier for improved blood flow.


Hemp seeds contain an optimal balance of healthy fats, making them good for your skin. In oil form, they improve skin disorders like eczema. Women who suffer from PMS or menopause symptoms benefit from hemp seeds’ gamma-linolenic acid content, which helps regulate hormonal imbalances.


Chia seeds, mangoes, pickles, jackfruit, and hemp seeds are generally safe to add to your diet. However, you should speak to a licensed health professional if you have special dietary needs.

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